1960-1963: President Kennedy envisions a federal program to combat poverty
1963-1964: President Johnson continues Kennedy's agenda and declares War on Poverty
The Economic Opportunity Action of 1964
The task force that drafted the Act felt that these programs would not be successful without including low-income people in the process and as such, included the concept of “Maximum Feasible Participation” as a core value of the Community Action Program, which meant that low-income people would serve on the boards of Community Action Agencies. This gave a voice to low-income African Americans, particularly in the south, and would cause controversy as the program progressed. The program was also deliberately crafted to allow flexibility for these local, non-profit Community Action Agencies to plan and develop projects tailored to the specific needs of their communities.
The Act also established the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to govern the programs under the Act.
1965: Federal Poverty Guidelines are established
1967-1968: The Green Amendment gives local elected officials more control of CAAs
In 1967 at the last possible hour of the legislative session, Congress passed a two-year reauthorization of the Economic Opportunity Act that included the Green Amendment.
The Community Action program is seeing results
1970-1974: President Nixon continues the OEO
Nixon has a change of heart and Donald Rumsfeld and CAAs fight for Community Action
Many unions representing Community Action employees filed lawsuits and on April 11, 1973 received a favorable ruling calling for the dismantling to be ceased. Lawsuits by various parties continued and it was ruled that programs could be delegated to other agencies, which some were.
In January 1974, the President proposed zero funding for the OEO. Community Action Agencies fought this, and later that year the President resigned rather than face impeachment charges.
1975-1979: President Ford signs the Community Services Act
CAAs create Energy Assistance Programs in response to oil embargo
President Reagan established the Community Services Block Grant
Reagan proceeded unsuccessfully to terminate the CSBG program from 1984 through 1987.
Community Action continues
In 1998, the Office of Community Services rolled out the Results-Oriented Management Accountability (ROMA) program to establish the effectiveness and accountability of CAAs. The program that is still used today measures outcomes and is a means for CAAs to continually evaluate the effectiveness of their programs and meet the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act enacted in 1993.